Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama Punk'd On August Recess By Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi?

A day after Obama's press conference on health care reform, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Leader Nancy Pelosi told their delegations it was alright for Congress to recess in August without first passing health care reform.

Pelosi dismissed concerns expressed by many Democrats that a month long delay could give opponents more chances to rally opposition to the bill.

"I'm not afraid of August," Pelosi said. "It's a month."

That is different from what she said Wednesday and contradicts one of her fellow Democratic House leaders. On Wednesday, Pelosi had indicated that she supported staying into August, saying, "70 percent of the American people would want that."

As the bill has bogged down in the Energy and Commerce Committee, the July 31 deadline for passing the bill has seemed increasingly more difficult to meet. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have promised lawmakers two days to read the final bill, so it must get out of the committee by Wednesday.

The committee again delayed its markup Thursday.
The directive seemed to be in direct contradiction to Obama's timetable for an August deadline. According to CNN

Obama wants a health care reform bill on his desk by the end of the year to both capitalize on momentum of his new administration and avoid the thornier political climate of midterm congressional elections in 2010.

However, at a Town Hall meeting today in Ohio, Obama seemed to concede the point, saying he's "OK" with the Senate's decision to delay a health care vote until after the August recess.

"We just heard today that, well, we may not be able to get the bill out of the Senate by the end of August, or the beginning of August," President Obama said. "That's OK. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working."

Oy, it's going to be a long summer.

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